By Douglas Adams
Genre: Science Fiction, Comedy
Reading Level: 8th grade
Interest Level: 8th-12th grade
Awards: Number one on the Sunday Times best seller list (1979), Waterstone’s Books/Channel Four’s list of the ‘One Hundred Greatest Books of the Century’, at number 24. (1996), BBC’s “Big Read”, an attempt to find the “Nation’s Best-loved book”, ranked it number four. (2003)
Teaser: What if you woke up tomorrow and your house was torn down and your planet was destroyed? Would you remember to bring a towel?
Summary: Arthur Dent is a human man who is about to go on a crazy adventure. He wakes up one morning to find out that his house is scheduled to be torn down. Before he can even process what is happening, his friend Ford Prefect admits that he is an alien and tells him that he must leave because his planet is going to be destroyed by the Vogons. At the very last minute, Dent and Ford are able to hitch a ride on the Vogon’s space ship. There begins Dent’s very weird, extraordinary day. Next he gets on a ship with Zaphod Beeblebrox who is a space celebrity. Dent also runs into Trillion whom he has actually met before. Then Dent continues to experience an adventure without even taking off his robe.
Information about the Author: According to Adam’s website, “Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge in March 1952, educated at Brentwood School, Essex and St John’s College, Cambridge where, in 1974 he gained a BA (and later an MA) in English literature. He was creator of all the various manifestations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which started life as a BBC Radio 4 series. Since its first airing in March 1978 it has been transformed into a series of best-selling novels, a TV series, a record album, a computer game and several stage adaptations. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s phenomenal success sent the book straight to Number One in the UK Bestseller List and in 1984 Douglas Adams became the youngest author to be awarded a Golden Pan. He won a further two (a rare feat), and was nominated – though not selected – for the first Best of Young British Novelists awards…One of Douglas’s all-time personal favourites was written in 1990 when he teamed up with zoologist Mark Carwardine and wrote Last Chance to See – an account of a world-wide search for rare and endangered species of animals. Douglas died unexpectedly in May 2001 of a sudden heart attack. He was 49. He had been living in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and daughter, and at the time of his death he was working on the screenplay for a feature film version of Hitchhiker.”
Critical Evaluation: The book is meant to be funny, but sometimes the complete nonsense slows down the plot. Or sometimes something is said in a humorous manner that I do not realize that I’m supposed to take it seriously as a plot action. This book and many of Adams other books are easy to get lost in. The narrator of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, tends to go off on tangents that, as I said before, makes it difficult for me to follow when necessary information is presented versus just funny information.
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalk Ideas: If a space ship came down from the sky, would you try to get on it? Write a paragraph.
Challenge Issues: Science fiction
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association
Why Did I Pick This: I picked this book because it is a science fiction AND a comedy. I think that is where young adult industry is lacking: in the comedy department. This book is hilarious and goofy. Teens will love to break away from the traditional, classic books because this book is weird and unexpected.
Adams, D. (1997). The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [Reprint]. New York: Del Rey Books.